I love Christmas.  My favorite part is not the presents, the parties, the songs, or the food—but the fact that I get to see all of my extended family.  Even when I was young and materialistic, the trip to each grandparents was the most (or just as) exciting as the prospect of a pile of presents.

As I often tell my students, the word “grandma” often has a positive connotations.  We buy Grandma’s cookies and pies at the store hoping to recreate that homey, cozy goodness of Grandma.  My problem is that I am a really picky eater—really.  This has always bothered Grandma B.  Should I not like the main course of a meal she made, she would go into a frenzy.  Growing up picky, it didn’t bother me to make a meal out of the Jell-o salad or the A&E cottage cheese.  We would try to persuade her, plead with her, to let it go—but she would not.  I would be peppered with questions until she could come up with an alternative I could eat.

And thus, she has always grabbed on to anything I liked with a fervor and every visit would be met with a serving of this magical food I would like.  I have to say, this is part of what I love about my Grandma—she is going to do what she is going to do and will not settle.  If she wants me to have a main dish—by golly I will have a main dish regardless of who tells her it’s not necessarily.  She was diagnosed with cancer about 7 years ago, and the way she went about getting better, you would have thought she was diagnosed with a cold.  Not to say chemo didn’t take its toll, but she refused to admit defeat.  Cancer?  Ha.  She had the B. family drive.

Unfortunately, this drive sometimes turns out poorly for me.  Two Christmas dinner’s ago she had a new dish.  It was made of ham and- hey -I like ham.  So, I put it on my plate.  But, here is where I made my grave mistake.  Grandma asked, “do you like the ham?”  I hadn’t had a bite yet, but ham is ham, right?  “Yeah, Grandma, it’s good.”

And then, oh the horror, I bit into it.  This was not ham.  This was ham smothered in something sweet and odd and in no way good (I’ve deducted it might be a mix of cocktail sauce and onions).  And now, every time I arrive, the ham disaster is waiting for me—and I am expected to eat it.  I said I liked it—it is now my fate.  My family watches and laughs as I attempt to choke down this awful monstrosity.

So, here’s a tip.  If you ever put something on your plate, and someone asks if you like it—try it first.  It’s much easier to tell Grandma, “oh, sorry I don’t like cocktail sauce,” rather than choking it down for the next hundred visits.  It wouldn’t have hurt her feelings—it wasn’t the dish, but my finickiness—which is obviously a direct result of my mother’s propensity to let us eat things like sugar, fat, and -my God- butter.

(True story: my dad had never had real butter until he met my mom.  My Grandma always had margarine because it was supposed to be healthier.  Can you imagine a life without butter?  I cannot.  It would be a sad, sad life).

I am off to Iowa tomorrow to choke down some ham (maybe I can pawn it off on R.)  Then it’s 2 days at my parent’s house while R. works two 12 hour shifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas (the joys of being with a cop).

Happy Holidays!  Enjoy family and friends and avoid that cocktail sauce if you can!

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